My take on Oscars

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
An opinion on A R Rahman winning two Academy awards.

Submitted: February 24, 2009

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Submitted: February 24, 2009

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The big wait is finally over. A. R. Rahman is the first Indian music composer to win an Academy award. He is the first Indian to win two Academy awards. 'Slumdog Millionaire' won 8 awards including one for ‘best motion picture’ and another for ‘best director’. India and Indians across the world are so proud that their chests may burst with pride.

But, what exactly should India be proud of? What did we actually achieve? Well, as always, I have got a little different view of the whole thing.


First –

When and where did India or Indians win 8 Oscars? Rediff had an article titled "India conquers the Oscars". Congress described SM as a 'film of India, by India, for India and for a global audience'. The father of the obscure lead girl of the movie, Friedo Pinto said 'The film has done everyone and the country proud'. This was a headline in another popular news website, Yahoo. It was a 'clean sweep' at the Oscars, according to many media sources.

I fail to understand this completely. SM is a British film made with most of the crew being non Indians. Yes, the actors are all Indians. Yes, the film is based on India. Yes, the Mumbai slums have been captured quite 'brilliantly' on camera. But, let’s face it. Neither India nor Indians have won 8 Academy awards. There were only three awards won by Indians. If winning an Oscar is truly a monumental achievement, let us be proud of the 3 awards that Indians won. In our quest to 'prove' to the West of what we are capable of, let us not inflate our achievements.


Second –

India is a country with around 1.2 billion people. Picture this with 0.3 billion of the US, 0.02 billion of Australia, 0.08 billion of Germany and 0.06 billion of UK. In 2008, an Indian won gold in a singles event for the first time in Olympics. Till date, only 8 Indians won a Nobel. Compare this with Ireland which also has won 8 Nobel prizes while its population is a little over 4 million, about 0.3% of Indian population.

Though winning accolades tastes sweet, I think the logical question that should precede is 'Why the hell did it take so long?' This question, when attempted to answer, would be more helpful, rather than puffing out chests in pride and try staying un-burst.

Just an analogy to support what I am trying to say above -

Suppose, for a second, that there is a race among five people. Does the fifth person who finishes the race get any applause? Well, last time I checked, he does not. Now, extending the same analogy a little further, suppose that one of the five participants is running with a prosthetic foot. Even if he takes double the time than the winner to cross the finishing line, he gets a warm and encouraging applause. I am sorry for this politically incorrect comparison but this is how it feels.

Third –

Why the hell are we so desperate and eager to receive a pat on the back from the West? Like a school kid who wants 'Very Good' from his teacher, India is constantly striving to be worthy of approval from its big brother in the West. On one hand, we talk of being a superpower, the world's largest democracy and sustaining 8% growth every year; on the other hand we have this hypocrisy, if I may be bold enough to call such. What hell breaks loose if the panel at the Academy Awards does not like / understand the Indian music?

I still remember when Bill Gates was here in India for an event (nothing related to his altruistic activities), many major Indian newspapers carried a story saying that he ate an idly with his hand, instead of using a knife / fork / spoon. This was interpreted as if Mr. Gates fell in love with the spicy Indian food. Oh please, does it affect the country in one single way? What harm is there if a Bill (Gates or Clinton) does not like Indian food?


In the relentless quest of pleasing others, one tends to lose his individuality and identity. The same is true for a country as well. Though there is nothing wrong to be more westernized, in thoughts, actions and attitude; I am of the opinion that the approach we are taking is flawed.


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